1. The fundamental principle underlying the traditional American philosophy is that the Spiritual is supreme–that Man is of Divine origin and his spiritual, or religious, nature is of supreme value and importance compared with things material.
2. This governmental philosophy is, therefore, essentially religious in nature. It is uniquely American; no other people in all history has ever made this principle the basis of their governmental philosophy. The spiritual brotherhood of men under the common fatherhood of God is a concept which is basic to this American philosophy. It expresses the spiritual relationship of God to Man and, in the light thereof, of Man to Man. To forget this truths is a most heinous offense against the spirit of traditional America because the greatest sin is the lost consciousness of sin.
The fundamental religious basis of his philosophy is the foundation of its moral code, which contemplates The Individual’s moral duty as being created by God’s Law: the Natural Law. The Individual’s duty requires obedience to this higher Law; while knowledge of this duty comes from conscience, which the religious-minded and morally-aware Individual feels duty-bound to heed. This philosophy asserts that there are moral absolutes: truths, such as those mentioned above, which are binding upon all Individuals at all times under all circumstances. This indicates some of the spiritual and moral values which are inherent in its concept of Individual Liberty-Responsibility.
An Indivisible Whole
3. The American philosophy, based upon this principle, is an indivisible whole and must be accepted or rejected as such. It cannot be treated piece-meal. Its fundamentals and its implicit meanings and obligations must be accepted with its benefits.
The Individual’s Self-Respect
4. The concept of Man’s spiritual nature, and the resulting concept of the supreme dignity and value of each Individual, provide the fundamental basis for each Individual’s self-respect and the consequent mutual respect among individuals. This self-respect as well as this mutual respect are the outgrowth of, and evidenced by, The Individual’s maintenance of his God-given, unalienable rights. They are maintained by requiring that government and other Individuals respect them, as well as by his dedication to his own unceasing growth toward realization of his highest potential–spiritually, morally, intellectually, in every aspect of life. This is in order that he may merit maximum respect by self and by others.
Some Things Excluded
5. This concept of Man’s spiritual nature excludes any idea of intrusion by government into this Man-to-Man spiritual relationship. It excludes the anti-moral precept that the end justifies the means and the related idea that the means can be separated from the end when judging them morally. This concept therefore excludes necessarily any idea of attempting to do good by force–for instance, through coercion of Man by Government, whether or not claimed to be for his own good or for the so-called common good or general welfare.
It excludes disbelief in–even doubt as to the existence of–God as the Creator of Man: and therefore excludes all ideas, theories and schools of thought–however ethical or lofty in intentions–which reject affirmative and positive belief in God as Man’s Creator.
The Truly American Concept
6. Only those ideas, programs and practices, regarding things governmental, which are consistent with the concept that “The Spiritual is supreme” can justly be claimed to be truly American traditionally. Anything and everything governmental, which is in conflict with this concept, is non-American–judged by traditional belief.
This applies particularly to that which is agnostic, or atheistic–neutral about, or hostile to, positive and affirmative belief in this concept based upon the belief in God as Man’s Creator. There is no room for doubt, must less disbelief, in this regard from the standpoint of the traditional American philosophy. Its indivisible nature makes this inescapably true. This pertains, of course, to the realm of ideas and not to any person; it is the conflicting idea which is classified as non-American, according to this philosophy.
America a Haven For All Religions
7. The traditional American philosophy teaches that belief in God is the fundamental link which unites the adherents of all religions in a spiritual brotherhood. This philosophy allows for no differentiation between them in this unifying conviction: “…all men are created…and endowed by their Creator…” This philosophy is all inclusive as to believers in God. Although America was originally colonized predominantly by adherents of the Christian religion, and principally by Protestants, the Founding Fathers steadfastly conformed to this all-embracing character of the approach of the American philosophy to religion. This was expressly and affirmatively indicated in the proclamation in 1776 of the fundamental American philosophy, of its basic principles, in the Declaration of Independence. This was further indicated, negatively, in 1787-1788 by the Framers and Ratifiers of the Constitution–as a “blueprint” for the structure of the then proposed Federal government, with strictly limited powers–by not permitting it to posses any power with regard to religion. This implied prohibition against the Federal government was reinforced by the addition of the First Amendment expressly prohibiting it, through the Congress, from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”–the words “an establishment of religion” being intended to mean, specifically and preferred by the government, like the Church of England establishments when existing in the States.
8. Belief in Man’s Divine origin is the foundation of the fundamental American principle which controls his relationship to government: that Man–The Individual–is of supreme dignity and value because of his spiritual nature.
The above was excerpted from the book, “The American Ideal of 1776: The Twelve Basic American Principles” by Hamilton Albert Long